We learn in Luke that Jesus sat among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
Through my career as a health professional, I have been blessed with the opportunity to sit alongside many patients for hours on end, learning about their lives and even developing lifelong friendships. I’m fascinated by where people come from and the stories they tell.
I was recently asked how I begin my conversations, and it’s simple.
“Where did you grow up?” Often times, it’s a small town in Arkansas such as Pickles Gap, Sweet Home or Booger Hollow, which has a sign near the town’s entrance which reads “Population 7…countin’ one coon dog”. One simple question can lead to stories about raising children, working on the farm, advice on 60 years of marriage, the unexpected death of a child and how, without their faith, they would be lost.
This is not an interview, but an opportunity to learn about someone else’s life.
It takes effort and energy to actually pay attention. Although it helps if you can relate to them, don’t equate your experiences with theirs. It’s not about you. Listen with the intent to understand, not to reply. If you’re talking, then you’re not listening.
My challenge to you: the next time you are introduced to someone, listen to them. You never know, maybe they will have a story about Booger Hollow and their coon dog.